Proposed Rec Center: Student Vote Nears

Its evening and former Clark student Levi Gellatly just dropped by the O’Connell Sports Center gym to play pickup basketball with some friends. They’d checked the schedule to make sure they wouldn’t interfere with any intramurals or classes. After 20 minutes the basketball team interrupts their game.

“Hey we’re having practice; you guys need to go.”rec center map

Students will likely vote in October on a proposal to build a recreation center on the Clark campus. Construction would be funded by student fees based on the number of credit hours for which a student is registered. College officials have not settled on a location, but Intramural Program Director Garet Studer said the tennis courts located off Fort Vancouver Way and McLoughlin Boulevard is a place of interest. (Graphic by Diana Aristizabal)

Gellatly won’t have to worry about finding open gym time any more. That is, if students approve the proposed recreation center.

ASCC plans to ask students to vote this October to approve construction of the rec center proposed by a group of students last March, according to director of Student Life Sarah Gruhler.

If approved, the proposed facility would be funded by students either through a quarterly per-credit fee or other funding models being explored by ASCC. Students currently pay a $2 per-credit fee to fund the Penguin Union Building. That fee is set to expire this December.

Gruhler said ASCC wants to stress to students that they should vote. “It impacts students whether they vote or not, so they may as well have a say in it,” she said.

ASCC plans to work with Clark’s communications and marketing departments to brainstorm effective ways of informing students of the vote, Gruhler said.

“That’s what our groups have been trying to figure out right now—what are some strategies we can have to ensure we get the optimal voter turnout,” Gruhler said.

ASCC is required to advertise the student referendum for two weeks before the vote, according to former ASCC President Dena Brill. The vote is decided by majority, regardless of the number of total votes, Brill said.

Last April a 130-student poll conducted by The Independent found that 77 percent of students supported the rec center. The same poll found that only 20 percent of students had heard of the project.

Students will have the option to choose from different fee amounts depending on what facilities they want the center to have, Gruhler said.

“The hope is that now students have somewhere to go after class to relax, rewind, work out, do whatever,” said Intramural Program Director Garet Studer.

Although nothing is official, Studer said that the rec center would likely be built on the tennis courts by the purple lot across Fort Vancouver Way. In this plan, the tennis courts would be moved to accommodate the center.

Part of the proposed plan is adding additional parking by the soccer field, Studer said. Currently that space is a gravel lot reserved for overflow parking.

“Right now we’re just meeting with an architect to get some sketches done and throw out some ideas,” said new ASCC President Emmah Ferguson.

The college is working with the architect firm LSW. The same firm also renovated Gaiser Hall and helped design the new STEM building, Clark College at Columbia Tech Center and Clark College at Washington State University Vancouver, according to its website.

According to Gruhler, the primary architect on the job is Casey Wyckoff. Gruhler said the meetings so far have focused on feasibility analysis and cost estimates.

Late last March members from ASCC and athletics toured recreational centers at Everett Community College and Pierce College Fort Steilacoom to get an idea of what other colleges have done. Everett’s facility cost approximately $19.4 million, while Pierce’s cost about $10 million, according to professor Larry Walker of Everett and Director of District Athletics Duncan Stevenson of Pierce.

Cost estimates will not be available until after the first week of class, Gruhler said.

“It’s 11 a.m. and I want to shoot some hoops,” Studer said. “I now have the option to do that.”

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